A Birthday Celebration in Waco

21 years. It’s hard to believe that our oldest has turned 21!! Birthdays in our family are a BIG deal, and I couldn’t wait to find out how we were going to celebrate this milestone! Of course, Covid-19 has restricted so much travel, along with school schedules, but we were definitely going to find some fun!

For years, my son and his sister volunteered at the Dallas Zoo, and zoos are a favorite of ours! He decided for his birthday he wanted to visit Waco and start off the day at the Cameron Park Zoo. Waco’s zoo sits in their 400-acre signature park, Cameron Park, along the shores of the Brazos River. It’s large enough to spend several hours, and there’s plenty of other fun things to do nearby!

A highlight for us at the zoo was seeing the new baby giraffe! It was his first day on display to the public since his birth on January 22nd! He stood near his mother, Penelope, and was hesitant to go play, but it was so sweet to watch them! Located in the African Savannah exhibit, they also have rhinos and greater kudus, as well as Kai, their lion, who you can hear roaring throughout the park!

We really enjoyed South America exhibit, with loud and colorful sun conjures flying across the enclosure that the share with cavys, capybaras, squirrel monkeys and sloths! We really enjoyed watching a mother and baby squirrel monkey cuddled together while the other monkeys played above them!

I love when zoos give you the names of the animals, and while the Cameron Park Zoo doesn’t list the name of each animals, they did have Veterinarian’s Notes, such as that Jack the agouti recently had a surgical procedure and that was why he was missing hair.

If you love zoo babies, be sure to check out the website, Zooborns, which shows pictures of baby animals born in zoos around the country! While they don’t document every birth, it is fun to read up on the zoos we are planning to visit, too.

One of our favorite exhibits at the Cameron Park Zoo is Brazos Country, which highlights the native animals found along the Brazos River, from far West Texas, which has American Bison, and wild turkeys, to all the way down to Bryan Beach, where the Brazos River spills out into the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way you’ll see black bears, white pelicans, alligators, river otters and so much more! We were disappointed but completely understand that Covid-19 had caused the closure of the otter slide, where you can descend through a clear plexiglass slide while the otters swim around it!

One of the most unique things at Cameron Park Zoo is not one of the zoo animals, but the large number of black vultures that nest there. The vultures have nested there long before the zoo was built, and as a protected species, the zoo can’t discourage them away. I think they make one of the most interesting aspects of a visit to the zoo! But seriously, the big birds are everywhere!

I love reptiles and we have owned several snakes so they do not bother me at all, but the green anaconda in the herpetarium may give me nightmares! The huge snake laid spread out in the clear pool, with only it’s very tiny nose visible from the top! Thankfully they only live in South America!

Still our very favorite part of the zoo is the Asian Forest exhibit! We fell in love with the tiger cubs when they were born back in 2012, and Razak the orangutan in 2017. In fact, he just celebrated his 4th birthday on January 12th! The orangutan’s have a great exhibit in the Asian Forest, and plenty of places to watch as Razak does flips and loves all the attention he receives! They even have an interactive Wild Wash, interactive for both the orangutans and people, as it’s a shower that you stand in, and take a chance on them pushing the button that’s located inside their enclosure! We’ve never gotten sprayed, but it’s always fun to try!

We left the zoo and stopped for lunch at Buzzard Billy’s. With so many buzzards in Waco, you’d think they should have been the Baylor mascot instead of the bears. It’s a casual cajun restaurant, with a big patio overlooking the Brazos River. My daughter’s classes are online, and she had to sign in to classes so we took a long lunch while she finished. Beneath the restaurant is the entrance to the walking trail that takes you all the way down to the Suspension Bridge!

We then headed over to Jacob’s ladder in Cameron Park, a must for us when in Waco! The boys quickly ran up the tall steps to the overlook at the top, while I skipped out on this in favor of being able to walk today! We did go across the road the Brazos river and took some pictures! The park was quite busy with people playing disc golf and walking on the trail. I love that the trail has many unique animals sculptures along it!

Cameron Park is really a pearl in Waco. From the overlooks at the West end of the park, where you can see where the Brazos and the Bosque River join, there are amazing hiking and mountain bike trails. YOu’ll also find a playground, picnic tables and a splash pad.

My daughter had a suggest for our last destination of the day, a visit to Magnolia Market! We arrived at 4:30, just before they closed at 5, and had no wait on picking up some cupcakes, which we then took to the empty lawn (it’s all fake grass) so find the last little patch of sun and sit down to enjoy the cupcakes and take in the day!

Keep Having Fun in the Texas Sun!


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